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Actions of Company in Railroad Accident

June 29, 2003

In 13 years of employment with the City of Commerce I witnessed the arrogance of the railroads and their lack of concern for the low-income residents of that city. Noise affecting residential neighborhoods, pollution from idling engines, rights of way littered with refuse, traffic jams and erosion of the city's infrastructure from massive truck traffic from rail yards are the community's daily dose. Now the railroads have added reckless endangerment to the list of outrages with the derailment of a runaway train in a residential neighborhood.

Railroads hide behind their federal charter and the Public Utilities Commission while trampling on the safety and quality of life of those who live nearby. Now they have recklessly endangered the lives of a low-income Latino community.

What if the cars had been filled with toxic chemicals? I hope this and many other questions will be asked. Most likely the railroad will use its political influence and nothing will be done. Thankfully, with divine intervention, no one was killed.

Justin McCarthy

San Clemente

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I keep reading criticism and outrage at the actions of the Union Pacific employees involved in the Commerce derailment. In a subheadline, The Times even called it a "disaster" (June 26). Obviously, serious mistakes were made in the Montclair switching yard to allow the trains to escape. But it seems that the dispatchers and supervisors made tough, no-win decisions under great pressure and managed to end the incident without the loss of a single life, or even serious injury. This is a remarkable accomplishment.

Houses can be rebuilt, damage repaired. If the dispatchers had not acted quickly and had allowed the train to plow into the propane tanker car on the other tracks, it is not an exaggeration to say that an entire neighborhood could have vanished in a ball of fire. As for complaints that cities were not notified of the incident while it was occurring, there simply was no time.

Jim W. Boulgarides

El Segundo

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